Jan 22, 2006

Industry, Product and Technology Life Cycles and Evolutionary Theory

One could integrate the different and partially opposing (or thought to be opposing) observations about technologies, industry and product development into a cyclical pattern of change over time where organization and innovation shift from one innovation regime to the other. Alternatively, one could also see this as a pattern that depends on industry and technology characteristics, as done by e.g. Malerba and Orsenigo. However, there do not seem to be specific analyses of data on the long-term developments of industry structures, organization forms, innovation that allow to decide the question easily.

If the hypotheses about cyclic patterns in industry, product and technology life cycles associated with differing technological, organizational and market characteristics are correct, than one could seriously link the development patterns of these fields to mechanisms causing punctuated equilibrium in evolutionary biology. The significance of punctuated equilibrium is that it serves as signal for evolutionary search processes which involve a shift between radical and incremental variations. The patterns of PE can be explained by systemic evolutionary theory, which adds to the Neo-Darwinian synthesis the explanation of the evolution of complex structures. Systemic evolutionary theory explains the development of complex structures on the basis of possibilities and limits for change of existing systems (or emergence of novel ones) leading to phases of radical, rapid change and incremental change (stasis) in organisms characteristics.

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